Cohousing: A safe place for children to play and build friendships

It seems to be only the blink of an eye before your child has grown from infancy to toddlerhood and you’re looking for opportunities for your little one to make friends. Here are some social benefits cohousing can offer your growing children.

A safe place to play

Cohousing brings time and space back to kids. Kids come to trust that other kids will be around to play with them. If you’re lucky enough to enjoy on-site childcare among neighbours, kids are more likely to have time to play safely outside before and after school as well as during their family off-work times. They can enjoy the whole of the outdoor space, not just their own backyard patch, to play on their own or with others. It’s a rare neighbourhood these days that can guarantee there will be kids to play with. 

Opportunities to grow lasting relationships with other families

In today’s busy world, so much of the child’s day is away from home. It is difficult for children to build lasting relationships with playmates and their families. Cohousing allows kids to see the same people every day, not just those in their own family, but also the same neighbours where they play and hang out with their parents. The early years are when our little ones need stable relationships the most and cohousing can provide that for them.

A safe place for children to engage their imaginations

Kids need lots of informal play time. School and daycare have to be about giving kids things to do for learning and socializing – but informal play gets left out. When kids play informally with the kids who happen to be in their neighbourhood, they learn how to negotiate all sorts of things…things they can learn while playing with nearby friends. 

Left to themselves (or watched from a distance) children develop skills like how to make or change rules to suit their current play. They picture themselves in pretend worlds in a natural environment with stuff they find; they share decision making about what they will play, where, and for how long. Of course it goes without saying that kids also need age appropriate supervision for their safety and the protection of property, but often they don’t need, and shouldn’t have, adults hovering over every move they make. So, when kids make mistakes and their negotiations, ideas, or choices go sideways – is cohousing still the best place for supporting them?

Cohousing is an ideal place for kids to practice conflict resolution

Absolutely! At every age, kids are going to test adult rules and they are going to have conflict with other kids. They are going to prefer to be around some kids or adults more than others. Just like us, their lives, bodies, and feelings are always changing, so their needs are changing and coming into conflict with the needs of others. What better place to help children trust that their voices will be heard than with adults who are committed to caring communication and peaceful conflict resolution? Important cohousing values are inclusion, joy in beauty and difference, love and care for others. Kids in cohousing get to explore and test these values; it is a safe place for a child to hear they’ve made a mistake or to work with a conflict and know they are still loved. 

In the first episode of Treehouse Talks Cate and Emma sit down to talk about living out their family values at Treehouse Village.

Categories Community Life/Families/Non-Violent Communication

Post Author: Clara Loveatt, ECE, BA, MTS

mother of 4 adult children and former Day Care Coordinator

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